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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 29, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: tornado victims in the south struggled to cope with the worst storm damage in decades, as president obama flew to alabama to tour devastated areas. good evening. i'm jeffrey brown. >> warner: and i'm margaret warner. on the newshour tonight, ray suarez gets the latest from the mayor of tuscaloosa, one of the hardest hit cities in the region. and he talks to the national weather service director about what may turn out to be the most active tornado month on record. >> brown: john burns of "the new york times" looks behind the pomp and pageantry following our extended report at this morning's royal wedding in london's westminster abbey.
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>> i william take thee catherine to be my wedded wife. >> for better or for worse. >> for better or for worse. >> to love and to cherish. >> and thereto i give thee my troth. >> and thereto i give thee my troth. >> warner: and mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses?
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>> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them. pacific life-- the power to help you succeed >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs
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station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the tornado death count across the south hit 318 today. that made it the deadliest outbreak of twisters since 1932. alabama alone had well over 200 deaths, and the president flew there to see the disaster firsthand. ray suarez has the story. >> i know all this doesn't compare to life, because life is so precious. i have another chance, we have another chance. >> suarez: in the stricken city of tuscaloosa, alabama, today, survivors sought comfort just in the knowledge they lived through wednesday night's disaster. the view from overhead showed damage almost beyond comprehension. a few cars on a rare passable road were the only thing recognizable. some people trickled back to what had been their homes,
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searching for pieces of their lives. >> it was less than five minutes, and it was gone. >> it's unbelievable. it's still not real to me. >> suarez: equally staggering, the still rising numbers of dead. one town pleaded for more body bags, and rescuers and survivors kept searching for those still missing. >> justin! justin! >> i... i don't think he made it. i don't think he made it. but we need confirmation. >> suarez: president and mrs. obama saw it all for themselves as they arrived in tuscaloosa this morning. >> i've got to say, i've never seen devastation like this. it is heart-breaking. >> suarez: the obamas viewed the damage with alabama's governor, robert bentley, and tuscaloosa's mayor, walt maddox. and they visited a damaged school, now being used as an aid distribution center, and met
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with now-homeless residents. >> i want to just make a commitment to the communities here that we are going to do everything we can to help these communities rebuild. we can't bring those who have been lost back, the... you know, they're alongside god, at this point. >> suarez: the governor called out more than 2,000 national guard troops to help with recovery and security. but the task of rebuilding promised to be long and costly. one tornado alone left a path at least 175 miles long. in and around birmingham, rescuers picked through splintered neighborhoods today, as authorities mobilized to clean up and rebuild. the suburban town of concord was all but obliterated. police departments sealed off the area from gawkers, so residents could retrieve whatever they could find. residents in nearby pratt city said they were in desperate need. >> something as simple as a toothbrush, clothing.
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there are some people, all they've got is a robe. so we got to find clothing for them and provide those things for them, so they can start rebuilding their lives. >> suarez: and in pleasant grove, where nine people died... >> pleasant grove will never be the same. never will be. >> you get to a point in your life where you feel like you're settled and you don't have to worry about anything, and now you have to start over. yeah, it's disappointing. >> suarez: nearly one million people across the state also had to cope with the loss of power, water and communications. desperate drivers hunted for fuel for cars and generators after power outages forced many gas stations to close. some drove across the state line into maury county, tennessee. but help was on the way. volunteers in andalusia, alabama, loaded three tractor trailers with water and other relief supplies. and convoys of power trucks departed from florida and from
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as far away as kansas to help get the lights back on. meanwhile, mississippi struggled to cope with sweeping destruction in towns like smithville. governor haley barbour toured there. >> the great need here is for us to have the capacity to unravel all of this debris, to see if we've lost any more citizens. and that's going to take a little time. and then, we'll start cleaning up and rebuilding. i can tell you, smithville, they're chomping at the bit to start cleaning up and rebuilding. >> suarez: the national weather service reported the tornado that hit smithville had winds of 205 miles an hour, the most power to hit the state since 1966. even tombstones from the 1800s were ripped up and knocked aside. and the roll call of disaster continued across the south-- in tennessee... >> you wake up, you see everything you worked for and how long it took you, and it's all gone. >> in about ten seconds, it's gone.
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>> suarez: ...and in northern georgia, where dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. we get the latest on the city hit hardest by the storms-- at least 42 people were killed and roughly 900 were injured after a tornado ripped through tuscaloosa, alabama. mayor walter maddox described what happened as a "nightmare," and he joins me now. mayor, do you still have a large number of missing, that number of missing and dead may still yet rise? >> right now, we know of 45 confirmed deaths within the city of tuscaloosa and our police jurisdiction. we have 990 that have been reported injured as a result of tornado, and we've got scores of people missing. but we think most of that is due to miscommunication and not necessarily being part of the debris field. >> suarez: so there is still hope that they may turn up somewhere else. >> we hope so. one of the issues that we
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encountered is you get calls into multiple sources looking for someone, cell towers are down, power has been out. so you are dealing with issues of trying to be accountable for someone. in terms of who we think are missing, that number is going to... in terms of do we think we have any more fatalities out in the debris field, we were able to do major sweeps today with different sets of cadaver dogs. and thank god, we didn't have anyone today that we found. >> suarez: along with that terrible loss of life and the number of injured, in the last 48 hours, have you had a chance to really take a count of what your city has lost? >> we have lost a 5.9-mile stretch of our city with half mile to a mile wide. it is utter destruction. as i told the president, this is a nightmare. not only have we lost such a large part of our city, which we are about 100,000, we lost our environmental services fleet. it's gone. our emergency management agency which handles disaster-- blown away. our fleet of garbage trucks, trash trucks-- obliterated.
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we lost fire stations. we lost police precincts, we lost the main communication tower. we lost our entire ability to provide recovery efforts after this storm. but the good news is, is that our heart may be broken, our souls are strong, with the work of the governor and the president, we're going to make it through this crisis, some how, some way. >> suarez: well, you mentioned that the president was on hand, along with your governor and your united states senator walking through the town with you today. what kind of help is on tap, and what dow need? >> well, what we need two things from the federal government. we're going to need reimbursements for the millions, probably tens of millions we're going to spend in this cleanup effort. and the second thing is we're going to need help finding home for all those that have lost. the direct tornado track, those directly in the path of the tornado, numbered over 6,000. those in the damaged track of the tornado numbered over 15,000. you are talking about one seventh of your city was touched or damaged during the course of this tornado. we're going to need those state
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and federal resources to cope with this crisis. on the housing issue, if we can't get some quick solutions to that, we're going to be facing a humanitarian crisis in the weeks to come. >> suarez: what did the president tell you today? >> the president told us, number one, that he's going to get the full backing of fema. and i believe it-- he was engaged, intent, and committed to helping the people of tuscaloosa recover. he also suggested ways we could coordinate through hud, so not only do we rebuild, we rebuild better. we begin with first-time home builder programs, provide incentives for small businesses. and the federal government has the resources and capacity to make that happen. >> suarez: when you've got so many people with so many needs over such a wide area, how do phase this thing? what's job one and has it already started? >> job one is search and recovery. that is making sure that everyone is accounted for. job two, we're going to be
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phasing in tomorrow, and that's cleaning the debris. we're going to try to get on... we're working through volunteers to begin get on private property, like you see behind me, so we can begin getting that cleaned up and beginning mid- next week, we start with public roads and right-of-ways. we've got one seventh of our city, a large city here in alabama that is literally shut down. and right now, our efforts feel like we're throwing rocks against the battleship because of the enormity of this. we're going to make progress, hour-by-hour, day-by-day and week by week. >> this has been called one of the worst natural disasters in the united states since hurricane katrina. now, we know, these many years later, new orleans still is not the city that it was before katrina hit. when you look at the extent of the damage in tuscaloosa, can you can see that it's going to be many years before your city is what it was at the beginning of this week? >> it could be many years. but what we're focused on is today-- let's find everyone, make sure they are accounted
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for. and tomorrow, we begin the process of moving this debris, slowly but surely. but i'll bet you this. the resilient spirit of our citizens has been on display for the world to see. and when tuscaloosa is rebuilt, it's going to be better than it was before. we're not going to let the 45 individuals who passed away in this storm die in vain. and we're committed to doing everything we can do building a better tomorrow for this region. >> suarez: did it make a difference to have the president there? in the midst of all this terrible event and the real losses, the catastrophic losses in people's lives, here suddenly is one of the most famous people in the world. were people bucked up by that? >> i only got part of your question, but it has been a catastrophic loss of life. it's going to be difficult-- it's difficult for us to even imagine that 45 people, on
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wednesday morning, went to work, fed their children, did what we do every day, and then got caught up in this terrible tragedy. that is going to be a constant reminder to me, every hour of the day, that we are going to work tirelessly to rebuild this city so that their family members, their friends can see their legacy from now on. >> mr. mayor, our condolences on your terrible loss and good luck with everything you have to do. >> thank you very much. >> suarez: april, in fact, has been the one of the worst months for recorded deaths from tornadoes in this country. it's prompting many questions, and i asked some of them a short time ago with the director of the national weather service, jack hayes. jack hayes welcome, what's happening in the upper atmosphere to cause what, for some parts of the country, are the worst storms in merely 80 year approximates? >> i would say, ray, it's both upper atmosphere and lower atmosphere. if i might start with the lower atmosphere. what we had this past week was a prolonged period of southerly flow off the gulf bringing warm, humid air not southern tier of the united states, east of the mississippi river.
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if you combine that with a strong jet stream that originated up in the canadian region and you bring that into juxtaposition, you focus account energy and then you have a triggering mechanism with the heat and the funnel system that was slowly moving across that set off the outbreak that we saw that went from arkansas all the way to georgia and up into virginia. >> suarez: are there any variables that make one year relatively calm and another one catastrophic? >> that's really the $64 question. 1,800 tornadoes and the very i think 2008, we saw nearly 1,800 tornadoes and the very next year when we were all prepared for an active season we saw far less than that. so you are going to see a natural variability from year- to-year. it's an area, i think, prime for research to understand what causes one year to be active and one year not. >> suarez: can you can use observed patterns, the history of other years and look at the beginning of a spring and say oh this looks like it's shaping up to be a bad one.
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>> we do do that. we have a climate prediction center that attempts to look at seasonal predictions. in some areas where we have strong signals-- la nina or el nino-- we can find statistical correlation and we can provide an outlook. i think this spring, in particular, we were alerting the northern tier of the united states as early as november, december that we expected march and early april floods. and you're seeing that red river in the north now, the ohio river valley, up even as far as new york. >> suarez: do you have to be careful when warning people not to get into the "boy who cried wolf" syndrome? if you see some variables meshing in a certain way, sending them to their basements and then having nothing happen? >> absolutely. we monitor our false alarm ratio. i will tell you, though, if we're sitting on the fence and we see a threat, the philosophy that we've espoused in our
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policies, the culture we've tried to create in our weather forecast is one that says i would rather push the button on the warning and protect americans, have them go to basements, and save a life as opposed to miss an event. >> we've had this terrible record in april. do we know what may holds? can we look at whether patterns and say it's going to be continue to be a turbulent spring? >> i think that that is where our skill... you're pushing our skill to the max. i think our outlook says that expect an active may. traditionally, may is our most active month, and it does concern us, the large number of tornadoes that we've seen in the month of april-- we had a record-setting season in 2004. we've had 835 tornadoes already this year. the record-setting season was 1,817 in 2004. and with may being typically the most active month, the question i think we have to ask ourselves-- are we going to have
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a record-setting year in 2011? >> a scientist at the national severe storms laboratory in norman, oklahoma, said there is a pretty good chance that some of these storms, the tornadoes were a mile wide on the ground for tens of miles and had wind speeds over 200 miles an hour. now, normally, tornadoes are bad, but they're not nearly that bad. what makes them so powerful this time around? >> well, i think the prolonged stretch of warm, humid air from the gulf set in place a couple of factors, the presence of strong jet stream, you had a unstable atmosphere over a prolonged period of time and when we triggered it, it is certainly abnormal to see the kinds of tornadoes we saw but it is not unheard of. we had one report of an ef 5
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tornado and that does say over 200-mile-per-hour winds. we've had those before, kansas, oklahoma, so they do occur. they are rare. when they occur they tend to be well defined features and stay on the ground for a period of time. >> suarez: do we have better technology for getting at least a little more notice of when things are going to be that bad? >> absolutely. in fact, i will say we have geo- stationery satellites, polar orbiting satellites. five days before these storms hit the south, we picked up enough conditions out over the gulf with our polar-orbiting satellites that our models were able to run and project into the future. we let communities know three days before that there was a moderate risk of very threatening tornadic situation occurring before the area that was hit. the midnight before the event occurred, we raised it to a high risk. so that was over 12 hours before the first thunderstorm formed in mississippi, alabama, arkansas. and so the technology that we have-- satellites, radars-- we
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have a doppler radar that we put in place in the late '80s, early 1990s that allow us to see in the storms and see circulation begin to form before tornadoes actually form. >> suarez: jack hayes, director of the national weather services, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> warner: still to come on the newshour: extensive coverage of that royal marriage in london; plus shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: thousands of people in syria defied a government crackdown today to stage protests across the country. a human rights group inside syria reported security forces shot and killed at least 62 people. we have a report narrated by kylie morris of independent television news. >> reporter: under fire, in the pro-democracy stronghold of deraa, protesters attempt to drag to safety the body of a wounded man. it's rare footage from a town under siege. one eyewitness told us the army opened fire when people from surrounding villages marched to the city gates. doctors speak of scores of bodies. but deraa is shut down and details are difficult to
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confirm. an army division occupied it five days ago, killing as many as 50 people then. our eyewitness spoke of residents imprisoned in their own homes, with electricity cut and food supplies running short. even the u.n.'s patience is wearing thin, the human rights commission agreeing a resolution condemning the assad regime. >> in this context, i should like to underscore that any official ordering or undertaking of attacks against the civilian population can be held criminally accountable. >> reporter: not only the u.n., but the u.s. and e.u. now also considering fresh sanctions against the assad government, encouraged perhaps by the massive demonstrations nationwide today. security forces fought back with tear gas when as many as 10,000 marched through the old district of damascus. it's the biggest protest in the
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city since demonstrations began six weeks ago. demonstrators defied the regime's will across the capital and beyond. the republican guard patrolled the streets, closing roads across damascus, but still, protests erupted after friday prayers across a number of suburbs. there were demonstrations, too, in the central cities of homs and hama; banias on the mediterranean coast, as well as latakia; and al qamishly in the country's far east. not only declaring their opposition to the assad regime, but also their solidarity with their countrymen in the besieged city of deraa. despite the government's brutal crackdown, no sign anywhere that the syrian people have lost their appetite for change. >> sreenivasan: in washington, the obama administration announced new sanctions on syria. they include financial penalties against the syrian intelligence agency and three top officials of president assad's government. in yemen, hundreds of thousands of protesters filled a five-mile section of the main boulevard in sanaa.
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they again demanded that president ali abdullah saleh leave office immediately. elsewhere, police opened fire on protesters in a western port city. witnesses said five people were wounded. a new pentagon report touts "tangible progress" by the u.s. and its allies in afghanistan. it's the first assessment since 30,000 additional american troops were sent onto the battlefield last year. the semi-annual report to congress cited enough progress to transfer control of seven regions to afghan forces this summer. also today, nato announced the deaths of three troops in separate incidents around afghanistan. in all, 48 have been killed this month. nasa postponed the final launch of space shuttle "endeavour" today after a glitch in a power unit. the crew members were headed to the launch pad when they were forced to turn around. officials said the next attempt would not come until monday, at the earliest. up to 700,000 people had been expected for the launch. they included president obama and arizona congresswoman gabrielle giffords, who was shot
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in the head last january. the two met late today at cape canaveral. giffords' astronaut husband mark kelly will command the mission. on wall street today, stocks finished with another rally. the dow jones industrial average gained 47 points to close at 12,810. the nasdaq rose one point to close at 2,873. for the month, the dow gained 4%; the nasdaq rose more than 3%. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: tens of millions of people around the world watched today's royal wedding in london, which comes at a time of economic austerity in britain. we begin our look at it with kirshan guru-murthy of independent television news. >> reporter: "shall we?" he said. ( cheers and applause ) and with that, the most anticipated moment of the most watched event ever-- fleeting, and like the best of shows, leaving the audience wanting
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more. as the princess left clarence house for the abbey this morning, the scale of the crowds must have shocked even their expectations. a million people had come to watch, lining the routes with obvious genuine happiness. ( cheers and applause ) in the abbey, the guests had been gathering for two hours already: the prime minister and his deputy still taking about what to wear, it seems; the beckhams unaccustomed perhaps to being in the back rows; rowan atkinson, with a "mr. bean" yawn. the ladies in the bright colors the season demands. small hats in large numbers, perhaps mindful of those sitting behind them. in an era of celebrity worship, even the seats in the abbey were arranged facing not the alter, but the aisle, like a fashion runway. a hint of nerves, perhaps, as they arrived. william in the uniform of a colonel in the irish guards.
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inside, much more relaxed and time for a chat with his mother's side of the family, seated behind the middletons in the abbey. ♪ ♪ but even the queen caught romance, wearing a diamond broach called the true lovers' knot. leaving the goring hotel with her father through a protective awning, kate middleton was keeping the secrets of the dress largely intact. designed by sarah burton for alexander mcqueen, we could see lace. a hint of grace kelly, perhaps? despite a clutch of tiny bridesmaids, it was pipper middleton, in another dress by the same designer, who almost stole the show. ( cheers and applause ) when she arrived, none of the
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crumpled dress problems diana suffered in 1981. a much shorter train, too. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ it was harry who saw her first, prompting william to steal a glimpse. and when she reached him, a quiet word. "you're beautiful," he seems to say before joking with michael middleton about the wedding being "just a small family affair." >> i william author phillip louis... >> take thee catherine elizabeth.. >> take thee catherine elizabeth.. >> to my wedded wife...
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>> to my wedded wife... >> to have and to hold from this day forward... >> to have and to hold from this day orward... >> for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.. >> for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.. >> i, catherine elizabeth... >> take thee william author phillip louis... >> take thee william author phillip louis... >> to my wedded husband... >> to my wedded husband... >> to have and to hold from this day forward... >> to have and to hold from this day forward... >> till death us do part... >> till death us do part... >> according to god's holy law... >> according to god's holy law... >> and thereto i give thee my troth. >> and thereto i give thee my troth. >> reporter: and even future kings struggle a bit with the ring. >> i pronounce that they be man and wife together in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost. amen. ( cheers and applause ) >> reporter: the cheers outside rang all the way into the abbey.
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then, some words of advice from the bishop of london. >> be who god meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. >> reporter: registers signed in private. ♪ ♪ and so emerged the newly styled duke and duchess of cambridge-- or prince and princess william, as she'll also be known. "so happy," she says as they head back to buckingham palace in the open carriage-- a 1902 state landau, used often by the queen and for the marriage of william's parents. this was the view those who'd camped for days had waited for. ( cheers and applause ) in a sort of friendly version of kettling used at demos, police then kept those on the mall
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pinned in, while those at the top towards trafalgar square were allowed to walk down towards the palace. but in a suddenly un-british approach to queuing, many started breaking through the police lines, desperate not ot miss their view of the kiss. ( cheers and applause ) and there you have the moment they had all come for-- the kiss-- this new tradition that you imagine has been going for hundreds of years that was actually only invented by william's parents, charles and diana. >> kiss, kiss, kiss. >> reporter: and then, in answer for the demands for an encore, their own twist to this ritual, another kiss. but all a bit much for three- year-old bridesmaid grace van carson. what do you think today means for the monarchy? >> oh, fabulous, absolutely fabulous. >> reporter: future secure? >> yes, i'm certain of it. >> reporter: what do you think today's meant for the monarchy? >> a good deal. i think it's very positive for the monarchy.
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>> reporter: another generation secure? >> oh, yes, most definitely. definitely. i'll be looking forward to little ones coming. ( laughs ) >> reporter: the fly-past was lead by the battle of britain memorial flight, followed by the same typhoons and tornadoes in action over libya right now. after lunch, a delight to the crowds-- a short ride to clarence house in prince charles' aston martin-- that's the one converted to run on english wine. more than anything else today, the moment that sets the more informal, human tone they'd like to project, and another chance to suggest they are a bit like the rest of us. if you need any more proof of how well it went, back at the abbey, the clergy were literally doing cartwheels. the virger, ben shoar, doing what so many have imagined, but never dared before.
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>> warner: for more on the significance of today's event, we turn to john burns, london bureau chief for "the new york times". john, there was a lot of talk in advance that the britons had become kind of blase about this, it didn't look that way on television today watch. did this wedding mean for britain today? >> it didn't feel blase in the streets. i'm not sure there were a million people there. i think that might be a somewhat hopeful estimate but this was the second of the two four-day weekends. much of london seems to have gone to the country or abroad. and it was a pretty good throng that turned out. first of all, everybody had a terrific festival day. the aesthetics were wonderful, the bride was beautiful, the wedding was conducted virtually flawlessly. the music was beautiful. who would be so dead in spirit so as not to enjoy that? but i think there was a larger, if you will, implication in all of this, which was that the
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monarchy has had a bad 30 years, not at all as bad as some of the passages it has had in the past, but still a tricky 30 years. divorces, indiscretions of all kinds, financial irregularities. above all, of course, the disintegration of the marriage of charles and diana. the queen has managed to deservedly stay above all of this and maintain enormous esteem of people here. the monarchy's future very much weighs in my view in the success of the marriage that we saw today. and that they made a very good start. >> warner: and why does that matter for the u.k.? here is this very modern democracy-- why is the monarchy still in such a prominent place? >> well, i think the simple answer was it works pretty well. and i have a suspicion that it more than the celebrity and the hubbub that intrigues americans about this. we have a head of state who is not involved in the political fray.
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the institution of the monarchy assures continuity. and embodies, if you will, the state, the nation, and the nation's sense of itself. queen elizabeth, who has been on the thrown for very nearly 60 years, next year, has accomplished that with tremendous success. we have had two elizabethan ages in this country. the first elizabeth in the 16th century, and this one. and i think she will go down in the history of the british monarchy as one of our great monarchs. so, on its face, i think this country is about to-- it works well, there is no reason to change it. gives people a great deal of pleasure. it reminded us of who we are and of our history. and that loyalty, that fealty, has been sorely tested by the events of the last 30 years.
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i think there was a feeling that today might be the turning point that everybody has been hoping for. >> warner: today comes at a time of budget austerity, painful cuts and many politicians, even the prime minister said he hoped today would be a moment of, i think he said "joy and light relief at a painful time." was there a sense of that? >> well, it's true. it's true there is a lot of pain being inflicted by this austerity cut. the government has declared across-the-board a 20% cut if government expenditures over the next four years. put another way, it means rolling the british economy back five or six years. so in london, you don't feel this quite as strongly as you do in the provinces. but there's no doubt that there would have been a lot of people out there today who found in the days events one day of relief from all of that. there was some on the left wing, a complaint about the cost of the wedding. but if i tell you that the government has said that the
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all-out cost was about 30 million pounds-- that's between million pounds-- that's between $45 and $50 million-- which represents about half the cost of one of the fast combat jets that britain deployed over libya, i think puts it in perspective. a price that many would judge well worth paying for what we saw today and what we may hope it portends. >> warner: now is there any sizable resentment at the cost of just the monarchy, in general? >> the cost of the monarchy to the taxpayer is presently about 40 million pounds a year. that is again between $60 and $70 million. i would think that would be comparable with what many countries of this size pay to maintain their titular heads of state. so i just sense in the general public there's not much unhappiness about it. what there is unhappiness about is when we see extravagance and waste and exploitation of that
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taxpayer money. and there have been some cases of that-- unnecessary uses of helicopters to go to golf games and so forth. but on the whole, i don't get any sense of there being a sort of bubbling republican ferment. i think there has been a gradual erosion of support. indeed, two of the principal left wing newspapers in the country basically in the last five days have preached a republican message. "don't be fooled by what you see on the streets and the wedding. this is an institution that's run its course." but one of those newspapers, the guardian, ran a poll on monday, an icm poll. where they asked a simple and really most basic question: "do you think the country would be better off or worse off without a monarchy? worse off, 63%. better off, 26%. and the remainder unknown. most politicians, i think, in
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office who got a 63% to 26% rate good against bad rating, approval rating. it's kind of approval rating that american presidents would die for. so i don't think we're on the edge of a collapse of the monarchy. we may be at the beginning of a new period, let's hope, of stabilization. >> warner: so you are saying, essentially, that a lot rest on this young couple that got married today in terms of the future of the monarchy. >> yeah, god forbid that there should be a repeat of what happened before, with charles and diana. there was a tremendous sense of having been letdown or deceived. but today, we saw a rather more mature couple. a bride who is 29 years old; diana was 19. diana was a choice, more or less, charles was driven to by a family that insisted at the time that he marry a blueblood who had no past, as they say, euphemistically. this time, william has married an eminently sensible, normal,
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balanced 29-year-old who seems to be much more mature, and william himself seems to be an eminently sensible young man. so let's hope that there are no- - there's nothing in the closet we don't know about. there is no indication that we do. as a matter of fact, my own daughter went to school with kate, told me that the kate you see is the kate you get. that she was at school-- west of london about 50 miles-- the most perfect of all the young women. she was a terrific scholar, terrific athlete. she didn't go up on the roof and smoke cigarettes or drink wine. and the head master of the school was interviewed at the abbey today and said that where kate was concerned, he knew of no misbehavior. he said, in fact, if there were- - he said the 11 commandment, "don't get caught." he said perhaps she observed that one. but in any event, she never did get caught. kate seems to be eminently well qualified for the huge task that lies ahead of her. and if they make a good marriage, i think it will have
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an enormously stabilizing effect. this country does not have a natural instinct to abandon an institution that has lasted over a thousand years with one brief break. i think that on the whole, people in this country feel to use an american phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." it has been somewhat broke, in the last 30 years. and now there's a feeling it is on the mend. >> john burns from london, of "the new york times", thank you so much. >> thank you very much. >> brown: and that brings us to the royal analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome. we have to start with the royal wedding. mark are you a royalist, a small "r" republican? >> i'm a small "d" democrat, as an irish american, i was not
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raised, i did not regard myself as an uncritical admirer of the british royal family. however, at a time of economic trouble and sort of down spirit, i thought this was a good news story with wonderful visuals today, and a very appealing couple. let's hope the "happy ever after" works. one positive thing i do want to say. prince william is in military service. he's a rescue pilot. and he wants to go to afghanistan. his brother did go to afghanistan, as did his three uncles all served. it really is an admirable tradition for those of privilege and power to do so. and i wish it was something that prevailed on this side of the pond as well. >> i was raised in a culture of think yiddish, act british, so
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we are big anglophiles in my family. not since alistaire cooke dine alone have we had so much -- shall drn. >> you watched it on tv, right. >> exactly. so i'm not only, an expert but a believer in the monarchy. i covered british politics a bit. we have gettysberg, lincoln, a constitution. british identity is interwoven with the royal family, for most britons it is part of their identity, part of what holds the country together. they don't have a constitution. i'm for it. you see the joy on the streets. >> lehrer: but what is it about royalty, and particularly british people, that grabs so many people, and so many americans? >> that was a mistake, maybe. >> no, i mean there are a couple of things. first of all this is a widding of really good looking, really rich, people with great real estate. and so people tend to like those things. >> and i think there is... there is vestigial respect for aristocracy when it's done well. when it is done with restraint,
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with a sense of service, like mark said, i think people have respect for that wherever it is found in the world, and especially for those of us who have been weaned on pbs for the british royal family. >> nobody does pageantry better than the british. they truly do. now i think you just mentioned donald trump. another event that happened today, president of the united states went and made an important announcement about his birth certificate. was he right, why did he do that? was he right to do that? what was going on? >> he was right to do it. and let's be fair, and blunt. donald trump made him do it. and the president had to do it. he had to do it, i think, all one has to remember is something that happened in this country seven years ago called the john kerry campaign. and we had the swift-boating, which became a verb, a gerund, of kerry failing to respond and
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react to charges. this was growing. and the concern among democrats was that, among independents, there was sort of a growing sense of this un-rebutted. an un-rebutted charge somehow gains traction in our poison political atmosphere. and i think the president had to do it. ideally, politically, you would wait until that magic moment when are you in the same stage with whoever the person was who was either tolerating the charge or making the charge, and present it in perry mason fashion to them. but i think they felt they had to. and it was interfering with his conversation and talking about issues that he feels are important to the country and to his own re-election. >> brown: what do you think? he waited awhile. were there risks in doing it, did it elevate donald trump? >> i would have released the document. i probably would have released it months and months ago, but maybe without the presidential press conference. clearly, the document will for all rational people will set tell. will not really settle it but for most people it will settle it. and so we can move on.
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whether i would have had the president go out there, have a split screen with donald trump, step on the big news of david petraeus and leon panetta getting appointments, and whether i would have him complain about the washington debate-- and this is i know consumes a lot of his mind, the aggravation with the debate in washington. and sometimes, it is aggravating. i just think it's rarely a good thing for the president to complain about the debate, complain about the media. you control a lot of the agenda. just move on. talk about the serious stuff. so i would have released the document without a lot of the... >> for the same reasons, for the swift boat. >> exactly. it gained traction, it with an amazing number of americans, despite any evidence. and conspiracy theories and oddball theories have a strange purchase on the human mind. >> but do you think it's done now? is it buried? >> david's right. for the rational majority in the country, let's be very blunt about this. this never was, never had a factual premise to it. there was a delegitimizing effort about the obama presidency. they couldn't do it on the election. he won overwhelmingly in the
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electoral college and popular. there are no sexual escapades a la clinton that they can brand him with and accuse him. there is no whitewater financial dealings they've been able to find. i mean, if barack obama's father had been born in new zealand, this never would have happened. i mean, let's be very frank about that. i mean, the fact that he was born an african, his father was an african, i think is part, parcel and central to this whole story. and nobody... >> you mean race or african. >> i mean race, africa and race, synonymously. and i don't think there is any question. that is the only place which they could sort of attack or make an attack. and mike huckabee, to his everlasting credit, former arkansas governor, whenever confronted on this, he said "do you think if this were true, that bill and hillary clinton wouldn't have found out about it
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in 2008?" it's so irrational. >> i agree with that. it's also there is a culture of a knockout blow. there is a dream we will find something on each president that will knock them out. and it's never a policy thing. "we'll knock them out with a scandal with this." so people hunger for that one magic switch which will make their political opponents go away. they're not going away. >> now, congress was out this week. but they were back in their districts. and some republicans found themselves under some pushback, some pressure, particularly over the subject of medicare. how big a deal was that? it happened in new hampshire t happened in florida. even paul ryan got some of it in wisconsin. big deal? >> new hampshire, pennsylvania. it is-- it's a big deal in the sense that it is a book end at least the making of a book end to what happened to the democrats in 2009 and their town meetings, where they had to put squarely on the offensive from angry constituents about the pending health-care plan. >> you see a comparison.
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>> comparison. and at times democrats said the republicans were organizing these things, and republicans now say democrats are organizing these things it. but in both cases, the people under attack, the democrats in 2009, the republicans in 2011-- do not have a succinct answer to, or two sentence, one paragraph response. democrats say it will take effect in five years. republicans say it isn't going to affect anybody under 55. and it's only a blueprint. it isn't even legislation. i mean, that isn't exactly the way to get-- quite an uncertain crumpet. so republicans are, i think, on the defensive on the issue. >> what do you think? >> they walked into it knowing that. mitch mcconnell used to present his colleagues with the polling data on what happens if you try to fiddle with medicare and people did not like it. and so they walked in knowing this. i mean, they are getting pushback because they are going to eventually be cutting some benefits. and people don't like that. to me the story, though, and we have all seen the polls for decades on the unpopularity of this sort of thing.
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to me the story is how relatively un-unpopular it is. >> say that again. >> how relatively you know, un-unpopular it is. so for example, polling is mixed but there was a gallup poll that had support for the ryan plan over the obama plan. interestingly, highest support among seniors and lowest support among people in their 20s and in other polls you ask people without do you trust on budget issues, the republicans are either advantage or equal. and so to me the surprise is not that there is protest. that was bound to happen. but there is a rising awareness that whatever you one thinks of the ryan plan, you can't go on with the benefit you have and we have to do some adjusting. i'm surprised by how much support there is. >> does that mean it would not have an impact? >> to me, i have literally argued that this is political... i mean i said on the show the other week that the ryan plan makes it likely that obama will get re-elected. i thought it would be that unpopular. i might have been slightly wrong but it is less unpopular than i might have thought.
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>> i think it is more unpopular than david does believe. i think one will be harry reid, the democratic majority of the senate wants to bring the ryan plan, which passed the house overwhelmingly. over four republican house members voting against it, not voting for it. to bring up for a vote in the senate. and there is very little enthusiasm among republican senators to do that. i mean, olympia snowe is up for re-election. does she want to vote for the ryan plan in maine? how about dick lugar? how about scott brown in massachusetts? that's going to be an awkward vote for a lot of senate republicans. >> now, one of you brought up the other substantive thing that happened this week-- the shuffling of the national security team. leon panetta coming in to replace robert gates; general petraeus moving over to the cia. what do you think about the moves? >> in the first place, i think they excellent men, great public servants. i think it's a fine moves.
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a lot of issues surrounded it, panetta being somebody good that can control the defense budget and with petraeus going to cia it further mingled the intelligence and military community. >> we had that discussion last night. is it a serious issue. >> yeah, i don't think it is to be critiqued. i think is the reality. we're not fighting the soviet union, we're fighting terrorists, asymmetric warfare, and intelligence will be a lot more intermingled with war fighting. so i think it is an inevitable consequence of the struggle we are in. >> i'm a little traditionalist on it. the cia was founded to have civilian control of intelligence. i mean, it was after the war and after oss. and it was a civilian entity. so that it would not be, intelligence would not be funneled through a military perspective and prism. i am a big admirer of leon panetta's. and i think general petraeus is somebody, given the dicey, difficult, strained relations between the united states and pakistan, i think he is-- i think he brings to it a very special talent to try and work
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out what has obviously become open hostility between the two intelligence services. and i think that panetta, leon panetta has a tougher job than bob gates did. i mean, bob gates was succeeding a controversial, polarizing, bombastic secretary of the defense in don rumsfeld. he's been cool, competent. he's the one person in the cabinet that barack obama could not fire. i mean, he had tenure. i mean, he-- you know, and he earned it, don't get me wrong. but he-- and he played it i mean i think afghanistan was a tribute, in part, to his influence and his position, as well as general petraeus's. but i think the other one is ryan crocker coming back, ambassador. >> to afghanistan, is a of enormous proportion. a man of great skill, great knowledge and was comfortable in his retirement at the bush library. and to be able to persuade him to come back, given his knowledge and working with general petraeus in the past,
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i think was a great... >> just very briefly does it signal any shift in policy or is this continuing. >> no, i really don't. i think more a continuation. we have somebody intimately familiar with the problems we're facing, so i think is more of a continuation. >> david brooks, mark shields, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> warner: again, the major developments of the day: the death count across the south hit 318 in the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes since 1932. president obama visited hard-hit tuscaloosa, alabama. prince william and kate middleton were wed at westminster abbey in london, as more than a million people cheered outside. and thousands of protesters in syria defied a government crackdown. but activists reported security forces shot and killed at least 62 people. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: we'll have more from shields and brooks on the "rundown" blog. it's called "the doubleheader," where we talk politics and sports. and with the postponement of the shuttle launch, we are also delaying our "you talk to
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'endeavour'" live interview with mark kelly and his crew. check the "rundown" blog next week for a new date and time, and keep submitting your questions on our youtube page. plus on "art beat," jeff continues a conversation with author and essayist roger rosenblatt about the craft of writing. all that and more is on our web site, margaret. >> warner: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at the fallout at warren buffett's investment company as a top executive is suspected of insider trading. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies make huge profits. >> last year, chevron made a lot of money. >> where does it go? >> every penny and more went into bringing energy to the world. >> the economy is tough right now, everywhere.
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